Date Ideas: Values-Identifying Dates

Most people’s values are easy to identify over a long dating period, but sometimes they can be harder to recognize in just one or two dates. Ultimately, it’s going to be hard to find out your date’s feelings on an issue if you don’t talk about it. Sometimes the easiest way to do this is to go on dates that will promote talking about such sensitive and vital topics. If you’d like to learn more about your date’s values, try some of these ideas to find out her feelings about media, morality, modesty, unselfishness, worthiness, material possession, and family values.

Go to a Movie Theater and Rate Movies by Preference

If you’re already going to a movie anyway, while you’re waiting in line, or waiting to be let in the theater, get out a notepad and make two lists: one for your date, and one for you. Then, list all the movies playing in the theater in the order of which you would most likely watch. When you’re finished, talk about your lists. Which are at the top, and which are at the bottom. Discuss with your date why they put them in the order they did.

Go to a Fireside Together

This works especially well if the topic is standards, values, or integrity. After the fireside, talk about what was said.

$1,000,000

Ask your date what he would do if he was given a million dollars, and then talk about what you would do with it. Get as detailed as possible.

Kindness Contest

Challenge your date to a kindness contest. Whatever your activity, any time one of you does something kind for someone else (it can’t be to one of the two of you), that person gets a point. It can be a smile or wave, it can be opening the door for someone, it can be a compliment or show of gratitude. You can (and should) show kindness to each other as well, but those won’t count for the contest.

Where’s the Line?” Game

If you are good friends with your date, or you have really good communication with your date, play the game, “Where’s the Line?”

Talk about different scenarios to see where you feel that a person has crossed the line. For example,

“You’re trying to fix your car, and your two-year-old nephew comes out and wants to help. He keeps getting into dangerous situations, so you ask him to go back inside the house. He doesn’t go, but continues to play in a way that could get him hurt. You swear at him and tell him if he doesn’t go back in, he’ll be in big trouble. He continues to ignore you until you finally take him inside, give him a spanking, and put him in his room. Did you cross the line? Where? What would be the better approach?”

or…

“You’re on a date and take a drive to see the sunset. After eating a packed dinner, you cuddle until it gets dark, and then make-out for an hour. You end up falling asleep and wake up around three in the morning. Did you cross the line? Where? What should you have done?”

This works best if you’re taking a walk, a drive, or doing something that encourages conversation (see Talking Dates)

Go Shopping Together

Sometimes shopping for clothes together (even if it’s only window shopping) can be a great way to find out your date’s attitude toward modesty. What kinds of things would she wear if they could afford it? What kinds of things does he suggest you try?

Do Baptisms for the Dead

Invite him to go with you to do baptisms for the dead, or any other temple ordinance. If your date has an active temple recommend, you already know quite a bit about him.

Swap Wards

One week, go together to your ward. See how comfortable she acts, and how well she participates. She may be shy, but you should be able to tell from her actions if she is comfortable being at church. The next week, go together to her ward. See how the people react to her. Do they know her? Is she as much a stranger as you are?

What Would You Do Different?

We all want to do some things different than our parents, and we all have things that we like about what our parents did. Do you want to react the same way your parents would? Talk about those things. Introduce the discussion this way, and then take turns picking topics. For example:

“When you came home with a bad grade: different, or the same?”

Then talk about how each of your parents reacted, and whether you hope to react the same.

“Child discipline: different, or the same?”

Then discuss how your parents disciplined you, and whether you want to use the same methods.

“Purchasing styles: different or the same?”

“How they celebrated birthdays: different or the same?”

“Their attitudes about pets: different or the same?”

Most Valuable Possession Discussion

Ask your date, “If you and your family suddenly had to permanently leave your home and take only one thing with you, what would you bring?”

Then talk about what your response would be.

Date Ideas: Nature-Outdoorsy Dates

Sometimes just getting outside can make a great date. But what to do while you’re out there? Try a few of these:

Boating, Canoeing, or Kayaking

Find a big lake, and get out on the water. Explore, and see if you can find a small island or obscure corner of the lake that takes a boat to get to it. You can try white-water rafting if you have a good guide. But whatever you do, don’t forget to wear life-jackets.

Biking

If you both have bikes, or one of you has a sibling that’s willing to lend their’s to you, go biking together. Explore an area new to both of you, or a place you know has a beautiful view.

Four Wheeling

Take an ATV up into a camping area or open public area, or just take it for a ride in the country.

Hiking

Depending on your fitness level, and the fitness level of your date, go hiking up a mountain together. Don’t go anywhere dangerous, but find somewhere with just the right level of beauty, privacy, and safety to make for a fun adventure together.

Climbing

If one or both of you knows the proper procedures, and has the equipment, go rock-climbing together. Find a local slot canyon or just a decent rock-face.

Fishing

I personally recommend fly fishing, since it allows for more skill and strategy, but bait-on-a-hook fishing can be fun, too. And remember that as long as you let most or all of them go, you can catch as many as you want.

Outside Sports

Play soccer, volleyball, basketball, badminton, tennis, or any other outdoor sport you can think of.

Snowboarding

This can be a little pricey, but it can make for a great all-day date. It’s kind of like skiing, and is usually done at a ski resort—unless you have your own equipment. Many people like it more than skiing.

Geocaching

If you or your date have a GPS phone, there are tons of resources on the Internet to find local geocaching “treasures.” Look up a few, write down the coordinates, and go treasure hunting.

Outdoor Concert

In spring and summer, most major towns have outdoor concerts, and many are free to the public. Look up any outdoor concerts in your area, and attend one. Don’t forget to bring a blanket to sit on!

You CAN Write Your Personal History!

If you are like me, you’ve spent a lot of time considering writing your life story. And, if you’re like me, you’ve spent a lot of time putting it off because either you don’t have time or you don’t know where to start. Or perhaps you can’t think of anything about your life that Is worth writing about. Maybe you don’t consider yourself a writer and don’t feel confident in your literary skills.

Have you ever considered that the biggest thing holding you back is you? I suspect that you really do want to write your life history, but you’ve just procrastinated it so long that you’ve collected a lifetime supply of excuses.

Here are a few thoughts that might help you get the motivation you need to just start writing!

“I’m not a good writer.”

One of the differences between an average writer and a great writer is that the great writer doesn’t try to make their writing great. While you are reading a great book, do you think to yourself, “Wow, what a great paragraph – this wording is amazing, and look how smoothly these sentences flow”? Probably not. Most likely you are mesmerized by the story or situation taking place in the book. How did the writer do that? Of course there are a few rules and tricks, but the main thing they did was this: the first time they wrote the words, they didn’t even think about making their writing great. They just concentrated on the story they were trying to tell.

What I’m really trying to say is don’t worry about your “style” or your grammatical correctness. Just tell your stories. If you really feel that you need to get your wording right, do it after you’ve written the whole thing – that’s what authors do all the time. They write a rough-draft, and then go through and clean it up over and over until they feel semi-comfortable with it. If you are just writing for children and posterity, you probably don’t need to do much redrafting, but just remember that the first time you write, you don’t have to worry about any of that. And if you are successful at ignoring everything in your writing except the story, it will come out pretty great.

“I don’t know where to start.”

The obvious place to start is the beginning, but the moment you try to start at the beginning, you may find yourself struggling to decide which beginning to start with. Your first memory? Your birth? You’re parents’ first date? Your ancestry?

If you don’t struggle with this excuse, don’t worry about it – start at the beginning, or wherever you want. But if you don’t know how to write a beginning, don’t. No, really, don’t bother writing a beginning. Start by writing something that will come later in the history, such as a favorite memory or some thoughts on an incident that you will fill in later. You will find that as you just start writing, the thoughts, ideas, and structure of your history will slowly come together. As soon as you feel comfortable writing the beginning, or start, of your history, do it. But it’s fine to write your whole history without a beginning. You can write that later.

In other words, if you struggle with writing a beginning to your history, just start somewhere in the middle. That way you don’t have to worry about first impressions. Writing is one of the few places where first impressions can be the last thing you work on. Once you have most of your history written, the beginning will come much easier.

“My life is boring. Why should I write about the boring nothing that’s happened to me?”

Writing is an interesting activity. Most people consider nonfiction writing to be simply a laying down of ideas – basically a bunch of facts grouped together into a book or article. But that assumption overlooks all that takes place in the mind of the writer. Writing is an proactive, interactive, self-propelling activity that draws meaning out of nowhere. Just the act of sitting down and penciling down (or typing up) words opens a conduit into the subconscious creative mind. By simply writing down a memory, your mind begins formulating thoughts about that activity, which churn and mix until something unique is formed that wasn’t there before.

Let me put it in a different way: when you bake a cake, you take a bunch of seemingly random foods – none of which taste good alone, mix them together, and put them in the oven. Then, as if by magic, when you take the concoction out of the oven, it has become a delicious treat. All the random ingredients have blended so beautifully and completely that without knowing the process that made the finished product, you would guess that the cake was a single element straight out of nature. And the taste is far better than the combined flavors of all the ingredients.

Writing is the same way, especially with writing your own life history. Your school memories, your dating years, your fears and failures, are ingredients in your history. As you write them, your mind will reflect on the meaning behind each incident. You will find humor in the oddest places, you will find life lessons where they weren’t originally intended, and you will find that your ordinary experiences weave into a heartwarming life story. That process doesn’t take much conscious effort, either. As you write, it will just happen automatically, just like the stirring and baking turns ingredients into cake.

Besides, your boring life is more interesting than you think. Your only context is the society you live in, and all your experiences are common to everyone you meet. Being in that one-dimensional context, it’s easy to forget that your children, grandchildren, and all the posterity after them won’t have that context. Their experiences will be vastly different than yours, because the world will be a completely different place by the time they read your history. Those differences will make your history both unique and fascinating – whether it means anything to you, some in the future will be excited to read the experiences of those who were around during the rise of the Internet and the turn of the century. While they may have access to news and magazines from our era, most people will be more interested in the life of a common person living from this very uncommon period of world history.

The unique things they read will be both fascinating and fun to read. The things you mention that they can relate to (relationships, spirituality, hopes, fears, and dreams) will give them encouragement and strength.

“I don’t have time to write my history.”

Guess what? No one does. I have never known anyone who has time to write their life history. Even authors don’t have time to write their histories – especially if they are writing full-time. Why? Because all their writing time has to be devoted to their profession. Most publishers aren’t interested in life histories – unless you’re Ghandi or Nelson Mandela. But even Nelson Mandela didn’t have time to write his history, and he wrote his twice.

But if no one has time time to write their life history, then how do they do it? Well, basically, they just do it. They just do it! They don’t have time, they make time. Time isn’t something that you can create out of the air, and it’s not something you manage. Time is just… well, it’s just time. It passes. It’s always there, and it goes as fast as it comes.

Every person on earth, be it Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, or the homeless man on the street – every person has twenty-four hours in their day, and every person has a choice what they do with their twenty-four hours. You may feel tied to a schedule, but that is because you choose that schedule. You choose! The way to make time to write your history is to choose to use your time to write your history. And fortunately (or unfortunately), you have no deadline – but if you will make time, that is, choose to take the time to write your history, you’ll find that you can use time to your advantage. It doesn’t have to be your enemy. Time can be your friend, because it will help you write your history. You’ve just got to choose to use time for that purpose.

The Makeshift Degree: Adlibing an Education without Going to School

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Okay, so obviously the most ideal way to get an education in most fields is to go to college, and for many jobs out, it is required.  But let’s face it, there are so many fields out there.  If you’re like me, you have so many interests that it is impossible for you to get a college education in all of your interests.
Also, many people are not in a position to go to college at the moment.
Here are a few ideas for getting an education outside of the school system:

Internet Sources:

The Internet has an endless supply of phenomenal information in thousands of fields.  You’ve just got to know where to look for it.  Here are a few sites I like – (maybe not Ph.D material, but interesting stuff nonetheless):

  1. http://google.com – good ol’ Google search.  You can learn just about anything with that… *
  2. http://www.youtube.com/edu – you know about Youtube.  Well, this is a branch of Youtube that specializes in good educational material.  Not just anyone can get stuff on here, so it’s a big step up from regular Youtube, and it’s a fun source of learning in all kinds of fields.
  3. http://www.ted.com/ – again, not a place to earn a degree, but if you want to get excited about learning, this is a fun place to go.  TED is a collection of fascinating lectures (yes, lectures CAN be fascinating!) that give an interesting perspective on various fields.
  4. http://www.openculture.com/2007/07/freeonlinecourses.html – if you prefer getting your information from reputable colleges, here’s a directory of podcasts that are done by colleges such as Stanford, Harvard, Yale, etc.  Just putter around the site to find the subject you’re looking for.

Books

  1. Check the Thrift Stores: As soon as a book becomes obsolete (by college standards that can mean the book has been published for a year and a half and now the photos in the book need to be reorganized), the thrift stores such as D.I. fill up with college textbooks.  After I paid nearly $100 for an astronomy book in college, I found a stack of twenty of them at D.I. the next semester for two bucks a piece.  Ugh… but that’s good for people who are wanting an education outside of school.
  2. Libraries:  They’re still around, believe it or not.  In this “Google any question” era that we live in, this is easy to forget.  Pick a topic, go to the library, and read all you can on the subject.
  3. School libraries: Most school libraries are open to the public.  You may not be able to check things out without a student card, but you can read what you want while you’re there, and if you take your digital camera, you can get instant copies of pages you want to read more about.

This is NOT a comprehensive list.  Fill us in!  What ways have you found for educating yourself on different topics?

* Clearly there is a lot of junk out there, and one of the great purposes of education is to train you to recognize credibility and bias.  You need to learn to check the sources on information.  Just because it sounds legit, or the information is worded in an educated manner doesn’t mean the content is of any real value.  The best lies are coated in great disguises.  So check your sources!

Read more entries with tips and ideas!

The Isaiah Barrier: Tips for Surviving Second Nephi

the-isaiah-barrier

talltab1How many times have you read first Nephi?  If you are like me, you’ve probably read it at least twice as many times as you’ve read any other book in the Book of Mormon.  Thank heaven Nephi does such a great job in his first book.  But then what happens?
talltab1You’re reading along, having a wonderful spiritual experience.  You’ve finally gotten back into the habit of reading the Book of Mormon every day.  You’re so proud… er… uh, pleased with yourself.  Then all of a sudden you read a verse that says:

“…kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers; they shall bow down to thee with their faces towards the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet…”

talltab1“Uh, okay…” you think to yourself, “I’ll just file that away into the back of my brain and get back to the good stuff.”
talltab1So you continue reading.  It doesn’t take you long to figure out that the strange Hebrew poetic writing doesn’t go away.  It lasts till the end of the chapter, then continues on to the next, and the next, and the next.  Before you know it, you’ve lost your daily habit and you’re hating yourself for not being able to work through the Isaiah barrier.
Sound familiar?

talltab1Let’s explore some ideas for getting through the Isaiah barrier without too many permanent scars.

  1. Take it in stride. Don’t expect yourself to race through it at the pace you’ve been going.  It’s not traditional English prose.  It’s not even traditional Hebrew prose.  It’s okay if your scripture study is only a few verses instead of a whole chapter.  Better to read smaller chunks than no chunks
  2. justtallGet a commentary – I’m not talking about FARMS or Hugh Nibley.  They can sometimes be as daunting as Isaiah himself.  Just get the Church Publication: Religion 302, Old Testament Student Manual 1 Kings–Malachi.  That is the Church’s old testament institute manual for the second half of the old testament.  It’s very simple and clear, and believe it or not, it makes Isaiah easy to understand!  (I bet you thought that was impossible – au contraire!)  Give it a try.  By the way, it’s also available to read online for free: http://ldsces.org/inst_manuals/ot-in-2/manualindex.asp
  3. justtallPray. Pray hard.  You’ll need all the help you can get, and who can help you better than the real author!
  4. justtallRewrite it. Okay, so this is a little more involved, and may take some help from tip 2, but give it a try.  Re-write each verse in plain English.  It’s not interpreting and rewriting the scriptures for publication, it’s putting it in your own words to help you get a grip on what’s going on.  Plus it’s kind of fun.
  5. justtallGet out the maps.  Better yet, jump on the computer and goof around on Google Earth (did you know that’s a free download?  It’s much cooler than Google maps, too.  Trust me) and punch in locations as you come across them.  Isaiah’s a real geography buff, and mentions places a lot.  Sometimes seeing it visually can help a lot.
  6. justtallFind scriptural commentary on Isaiah.  Isaiah is such a popular topic in the scriptures (especially in the Book of Mormon), that a lot of the verses are mentioned by other prophets and expounded in detail.
  7. justtallIf all else fails, skip itOh my heck, did I really just say that?  Yeah.  It’s a last resort, but if it’s a choice between losing your scripture habit and skipping the chapters, just skip them.  If you get really good at your habit, you’ll come back in the future.  The Isaiah chapters are more or less done by the end of 2 Nephi 24, so just jump to 2 Nephi 25.

talltab1Well, that’s about all I know.  Any more ideas?  How do you work your way through Isaiah?  Any tips for the rest of us?

Oh, by the way, here’s a scripture for the day!

3 Nephi 23:1

And now, behold, I say unto you, that ye ought to search these things. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah

Journals and Diaries: Ideas for Keeping it Fun!

I have been keeping a daily journal for about sixteen years now, and I love doing it.  One of the things that keeps me at it is using variety in my journal-keeping methods.  Here are some examples:

Traditional Methods

1. Keep a small pocket notebook with you wherever you go, and when an idea of something to mention in your journal comes to you, jot down a word or two that will remind you of the incident so you can write about it in your journal later.
2. Write a memory of something that happened long ago.  Remember that it probably won’t make a difference in the next generation if you wrote it the same day or years later.
3. Write about something funny that happened recently.
4. Write about something someone else did recently.

Creative Methods

1. Draw a cartoon, sketch, or simple painting of the event(s) of the day in your journal.  Write what the picture represents, and be sure to Continue reading Journals and Diaries: Ideas for Keeping it Fun!